Snowmobile south through mountain passes to the fjord area of Van Mijenfjorden – during the 72-kilometre journey, you may encounter high-arctic reindeer, arctic fox and ptarmigan – to reach the remote east coast, where the land collides with pack ice and the sea. This is polar bear country, and with this fearsome predator in charge, you are now entirely dependent on your equipment, your guide’s knowledge and experience – and your snow-chilled balls. Arrive at base camp in a location sheltered from the wind and the elements but still close to the polar bears. Depending on weather and distances, you’ll trek, ski and/or snowmobile, staking out varied vantage points to observe the bears. During this season, females and cubs are emerging from hibernation, while lone males, thin from the long winter, hunt and track prey. Spitsbergen is the last protected natural polar bear habitat, and with a bear population of 4,500, sightings are highly likely.
Costs about $13,995 per person. Departures in March and April. Contact Abercrombie & Kent (0845 618 2207/ www.akextremeadventures.co.uk).